how to get customers to take surveys

The question of how to get customers to take your surveys could be solved by looking into research on persuasion and the concepts of consent. If you’re looking to increase your response rate, read on…

In his 1947 treatise on the ‘engineering of consent’, Edward Bernays introduced the concept of persuasion as a scientific discipline.

Fast forward 70 years, and many CSAT professionals still struggle to putting this idea into action.

Ever since cave dwellers successfully co-opted one another with beckoning calls, enticing gifts and the occasional threat of being hit with a stick, the art of getting someone to do something you want them to do has long been the object of human endeavour.

But let’s face it, in the field of gathering insights into customer satisfaction, most organizations need more sophisticated ways of persuading customers to take their surveys.

Appealing to the emotional

Bernays’ work gave birth to modern advertising campaigns and a brave new world of public relations.

Its legacy draws upon the exploitation of emotions. By understanding how people feel in response to certain messages – specifically what makes them agreeable and positive – you can devise ways of interacting with them to optimise your intentions.

These principles clearly have a limit, however. Changing people’s minds or persuading them to do something against their interests is simply not on the agenda.

Motivation – a spectrum from ‘wow!’ to ‘doh!’

The key to engineering consent is to understand what motivates the individual/s you are dealing with.

A sure-fire way to get customers to take surveys is to make all their dreams come true once they’ve completed it. i.e. – complete this survey and we’ll buy you a Ferrari/house/pet donkey.

On anyone’s motivation spectrum, this will score 100%.

take surveys persuade

But making dreams come true is expensive and nigh-on impossible.

Down at the other end, some organizations offer nothing whatsoever except the friendly insight (a warning, in other words) that the survey will take 10 minutes of their time.

10 minutes (or five, or two) that they will never get back. Time that they could have spent with their loved ones / asleep / taking out the garbage / anything else that could be construed as even remotely enjoyable or constructive. 0% motivation guaranteed.

At the very least, motivation – in the context of a customer response mechanism – is being able to credibly indicate that positive change will result from the customer’s interaction, and then delivering on that.

The Fogg Behavior Model

Following in Bernays’ footsteps is Dr. BJ Fogg, founder of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University and creator of the Fogg Behavior Model (FBM).

The FBM shows that you need the simultaneous presence of three ingredients in order for a behavior to occur: motivation, ability and trigger.

As we’ve established, motivations can range from high to low.

But the same can be said of ability, on a scale running from ‘hard’ to ‘easy’. Something offering low motivation that’s hard to do would need one heck of a trigger to make happen.

Conversely, something highly motivating that’s easy to do should succeed so long as a decent trigger is used.

So, what forms do ‘triggers’ take?

Inviting, engaging and easy

Fogg’s model defines triggers as ‘facilitators, sparks or signals’, and these in turn relate to a series of simplicity factors that define ‘ability’. In other words: triggers are the starting points to eliciting information and would traditionally encompass emails or web forms.

Without getting too bogged down in the science, Fogg’s model translates into the need to make the engagement process inviting, engaging and easy. It should ideally capitalise on what comes naturally to the customer, rather than introducing a new process that takes time, physical effort, arduous thinking or breaks their routine.

Lots of organizations have got their heads round this concept in phone-based customer transactions that they can ‘inject’ with a satisfaction-based query or two, without disrupting the exchange.

However, there are limitations in terms of how much data can be asked and, besides, customer interaction is increasingly happening via digital channels like social, chat and even video.

Think visual

Why not start a customer survey off the back of a corporate YouTube clip by flashing the ‘trigger’ on screen with 10 seconds of the video left to run?

Wherever they are placed, the new survey designs that succeed online use visual triggers and modular approaches that support a series of guided steps showing progress.

Pioneers in form design like Leadformly demonstrate that survey completion is less about creating a form to fill in and more about delivering a visual process customers can engage with.

Others take this even further with gamification; running league tables and and reflecting live usage stats. Being successful here goes back to the original point about understanding your customer sufficiently to appreciate emotions and motivations.

5 things to consider in your next customer survey design

If customers aren’t finishing (or even starting) your existing customer surveys then you need to accept that your metrics aren’t going to improve on their own.

Instead, consider the following:

1. What motivates your customers to participate? How will you convince them they were right to bother?
2. How simple are you making it to complete the survey? Are you asking the minimum number of questions?
3. Are you breaking your data requirement into chunks or requiring customers to do it all in one go? Why not use a series of guided steps to elicit information?
4. What triggers are you using to begin the process? Do they capitalise on what comes naturally to your customers, or break their normal routine?
5. Is the experience visually appealing or in any way inviting, engaging and easy?

Pondering how to get customers to take surveys?

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